But okay so like..I have questions.

I just read yet another super Anti-Black piece of trash in a “well regarded” supposedly venerable publication.

Okay I have fucking questions.

So, in the past few years I’ve not been trying to get as involved with lit world fuckery. That said, I see it. I watch publications publish and pay for boldly Anti Black, racist, transphobic shit and y’all just…

I have mother fucking questions.

Nobody can ever tell me why these are the voices folks choose to put forward. Or why aside from mealy mouthed declarations of freedom of speech, that those things need space.

And then so many of those pubs turn around and brag about their commitment to diversity.

Y’all.

Can I be honest?

Shit like this, is what propels me out of the lit world.

In 2016 I made less than 30 submissions. And most of them were rejected.Most of hte stuff I’ve gotten published that I haven’t done myself has been solicited.

It’s not for lack of done work. It’s because I don’t want to have to wade through the ugly shit to see if I even should submit. I don’t want my name associated with venerable well paying publications that like to post racist or whatever shitty shit without comment except, oooh freedom of speech.

Man.

I have to deal with that.

I have to deal with sooper seekrit lady writer groups where I’ve opened my big ass mouth about injsutices, and said no to whiteness and worry about being told that editors will tell other editors that I might be a problem or hard to work with. I have to deal with the very real thing (that has happened but not lately) of having my ideas stolen and fucked up because I asked my “peers” for advice.

And I have to be able to actually write the shit and not have it come out only FUCK FUCK FUCK MOTHER OF FUCK.

Maybe it is getting older or maybe it is the fact that this election has pretty much destroyed any chill I had left but I just don’t want to do it.

I have SCLAB to do and that is my heart. And I can’t do that if my heart is torn to shreds because the lit world is a burning garbage fire on the regular.

I am so frustrated.

I am angry.

I am so tired.

I feel like my opportunities in the lit world are shrinking.

I have a submission almost ready because someone told me I should submit to their thing. I have a few more like that.

What I don’t have is the strength or girded loins to do deep market research anymore because I keep running into this bullshit.

I dunno y’all.

2017 might be the year I go full indie because I just can’t deal with this AND do my art.

I just don’t know.

#BlackSpecFic Feelings.

First, please go check out the work Fireside Fiction put in on this. 

Ahem.

For our purposes here today I’m gonna use this definition of spec fic from wikipedia:

Speculativefiction is a broad umbrella category of narrative fiction referring to any fiction story that includes elements, settings and characters whose features are created out of human imagination and speculation rather than based on attested reality and everyday life. That encompasses the genres of science fiction, fantasy, science fantasy, horror, alternative history, and magic realism.

If you’ve read me for a while, you know this is an area I love to live and play in. Also, please read this. 

My own experiences mirror a lot of those N.K. Jemison talks about. When I was a wee baby writer, I did not allow my Blackness in my work in a lot of ways. From the writing perspective my earliest lessons both overt and not were like so:

  • Anything involving Black characters would likely not be “believable” if they weren’t hood caricatures or portraits of racial uplift. That cut across all the genres I like to work in.
  • Blackness regardless of subject matter, genre, etc is often treated as a wee tiny box where ALL the Black stories must go.

I’ve talked about this before, but I can’t find all the links. There is a problem when as a writer, you do your due diligence and study the places you are submitting. For me personally if I go back more than 5 or so issues and see no POC or if the masthead headshots are all White men, if the stories are all in one vein under the guise of aesthetics and “goodness” those are not places I’m going to feel welcome.

A problem I (and I’ll venture to guess a lot of POC and especially Black authors) run into every now and then is when White editors are very obviously uncomfortable with Blackness or anything not White centric. Often this isn’t anything blatant, it can be felt in email exchanges where an editor doesn’t understand a phrase that isn’t “proper English”, or suggestions to do certain things (in my case it was an Orisha) more “mainstream”. The suggestion was to change the goddess/Orisha in this story to Aphrodite or, you know, a White one. Being questioned about not italicizing my Spanish. Being questioned about how “unlikely” (in a firmly spec fic story) it would be to have the protagonist be a little Black girl.

The first story I referenced, was published at Expanded Horizons and was my first publication in a spec fic magazine. That story (I just went a looked) was rejected 15 times. There was one nibble of interest, but the editor backed off when I said I would not rewrite to make it a Euro/White story.

The next story isn’t really spec fic (though my inspiration was) but the tiniest bit of unitalicized Spanish made it “difficult for most readers”.  (I can’t get to youtube but go there and search Daniel Jose Older and Italicized Spanish, it’s worth it)

The last story (it was Pushcart nominated) was rejected 16 times. The first nibble of interest, I spent about two weeks going back and forth with an editor who couldn’t see or understand how a little Black girl who is a shapeshifter would ever exist in a world where there are shapeshifters. This person also mentioned how my names for my creatures, Children of Apep, Daughter of Sekhmet etc would be too “esoteric” for “most” readers. I actually went back to read the exchange. Yes, references to Egyptian gods/esses as the names of shapeshifters is too “esoteric”. My references to Hyena and Crow were “not really relatable”.

For a lot of years, this is what I had to wade through when submitting so as I’ve mentioned before I just stopped.

This isn’t exclusive to spec-fic. The problem of overwhelming whiteness is one of literature in general. For me, the constancy of the racism in lit has just been exhausting. When I decided to start writing genre fiction again, I again found myself being unable to bear interacting with the community, reading fan stuff etc because shit always gets real racist real quick.

These are many of the reasons why I started self pubbbing my genre fiction. These are many of the reasons I stopped reading genre fiction too.

For the cheap seats. As a White person in a position of power in the lit world, you can’t just say you’re all for inclusion and diversity if you can’t demonstrate it. Words in this matter are useless. You have to act. As I’ve said many times before, you have to be uncomfortable. You have to understand that using Whiteness as the measure for what is “good” is a problem. Even if you don’t mean it.

Understand that there will be things and elements of work that don’t resonate with you and that is okay.

You have to do the work or you’re part of the problem here.

There are SO many easy ways to find authors of color to approach to feature their work, editors you can talk to. It’s not that fucking hard. It is 20 mother fucking 16. You probably have a computer in your pocket.

Listen to what POC have to say.

Read work by POC.

If you are totally into inclusion, be that shit. Don’t just say it. Do it. Do the work.

We exist.

If you’re a reader. Find the stories and books. Buy them, read them, check them out at the library, talk about them.

As a creator of things, I’d also like to say this.

Stop pretending that the statistics are shocking. Stop it. We all know racism is a real thing and permeates everything. Including literature. Including speculative fiction. Including SF and horror and everything else. Stop. White folks, you are not helpless here. There are tons and tons of articles, stories, etc. written by and about POC so maybe start reading them.

Do the work.

That’s all for now.

On Rejections and Thangs

Behold first a list of places I’ve been rejected from in the last few years. These culled from my Submittable (OH sidebar: if you ever need help with your Submittable account their CS is FUCKING STELLAR. Like really great.) account.

I MADE THIS.

Publisher *Interrobang Magazine*Bone Bouquet*Portland Review*Two Serious Ladies*Corium Magazine*Black Fox Literary Magazine*Menacing Hedge*kill author*Quickly*Jersey Devil Press*Looseleaf Tea*MUD LUSCIOUS PRESS*Red Bridge Press*d.ustb.in*Cease  Cows*Wyvern Lit*The James Franco Review*The Butter*Storyglossia*Necessary Fiction*Atticus Books*Knockout Literary Magazine*Girls with Insurance*Linden Avenue Literary Journal*The Molotov Cocktail*Word Riot*Camroc Press Review*SmokeLong Quarterly*Vending Machine Press*The Rusty Nail*Side B Magazine*Curbside Splendor Publishing*Used Furniture Review*fwriction : review*Word Riot*Belletrist Coterie*The Offing*Specter: A Curated Literary Website*The Offing*A-Minor*Word Riot*Bloom*The Midwest Coast Review*Leodegraunce*Eclectic Flash*fwriction : review*Stone Highway Review*Specter: A Curated Literary Website*Metazen*tNY.Press*ExFic*wtf pwm*[PANK]*fwriction : review*Camroc Press Review*Used Furniture Review*Unshod Quills*BLACKBERRY: a magazine*Gravel*Birdfeast*Necessary Fiction*Slit Your Wrists! Magazine*Wilde Magazine*10 000 Tons of Black Ink*Monkeybicycle*Counterexample Poetics*deactivated TOSKA Magazine*Little Episodes*Gertrude Press*ABJECTIVE*Battered Suitcase*The Monarch Review*Out of the Gutter Online*[PANK]*freeze frame fiction*Publishing Genius*Menacing Hedge*The Citron Review*Dark Sky Magazine*DREGINALD*Behind Closed Doors*Barn Owl Review*decomP magazinE*Necessary Fiction*Word Riot*The Rumpus

So if you get through that, you’ll see some repeats. Places that are in my mind big swing and miss type submissions.

I’ve been reflecting about the process lately since I don’t submit on such a rigorous schedule anymore.

I was reading something about rejections and I frankly refute the idea that it is always the writer.

The thing is that if you are writing from a perspective or about marginalized people in a way that is not the accepted (generally when it decenters Whiteness, heteronormativity, etc etc) there is an uphill battle, whether people who are closer to acceptable want to recognize it as part of the process or not.

After doing the submission thing and research things and reading thousands upon thousands of pages of what journals/mags publish, the struggle is real. I look over this little rejection list and this one from my race to 100, there are some I can point to as having probably been based on how I was telling stories about Black folks or Queer folks, rather than just my shitty writing.

Of course, there are times when I look back and cringe because things can always be better, tighter, more perfect, etc.

However, after going back through a lot of that work (and many of those pieces found homes eventually) and looking at the language in a lot of rejections (not just from this list but over a ten year period) I can say that I’ve seen some patterns and the patterns have fit in with my research.

Here is where I invite editors to pay some full attention, marginalized writers too:

  1. If I go through say five back issues of your thing and I see no POC, no stories about anyone other than White people in whatever form, I’m 99% sure if I submit a story about POC/other marginalized people you won’t take it. I often envision the, we love your work, but no fit yadda yada. For me, over the years, this has been a thing a lot.
  2. If you have words like diversity, inclusion or anything related and you haven’t done the work in your previous however many issues, see #1.
  3. If I’ve been reading and following your thing and you have a few POC or other marginalized folks and tend to only publish certain types of narratives, whether fictional or not, or the only POC you interview fall into a few distinct categories, see #1.

Etc.

One of the habits that has been ingrained in me since I was a wee baby writer age 19 in 1996 carefully copying addresses out of the back of Poets&Writers, I read where I want to be. At one point after I had my own computer (I think I got my first one in like 2001?) I had dozens of pages of individual notes on publications. I transcribed them from PW, from websites, from notebooks. I had a system. I spent two months writing like a motherfucker as much as humanly possible, I spent a month editing everything and then a month submitting.

This habit has remained with me, though I have learned to use trackers (GODS damn I wish someone had told me to do that back then) and figured myself out in terms of the truth of what I do, I’ve learned to read more closely and that is how I’ve figured out my system for parsing rejections and figuring out where to submit.

There have been times where I’ve spoken with editors, I can think of a few who really went to bat for me because I did not fit their standard narratives. That is gratifying.

Experience informs how I deal with my rejections.

In this phase of my writing life, I’m not as interested in trying to blaze trails.

I’ve got a big fucking mouth and I do indeed talk a lot of shit and occasionally name names. I’ve decided that rather than hold that in, I’m letting it out. I’m sure that will cause me rejections over time. It’s fine.

I realized during AWP and some subsequent interactions with lit world folks that I just don’t have the energy or mental health reserves to be one of the brick wall busting types.

I’ve hit fuck it.

I’ve figured out that I feel okay being a terrible self-published author.

I’m fine trying to hustle fiction out of my Etsy store like a literary pusherman.

I don’t hold out hope to be raised up by the loving hands of some literary agent.

I don’t really care if I get the Big Book Deal.

I’ve discovered the depths of joy I feel when small indie bootleg ass presses tell me if I do X thing, they want first look.

I’ve discovered the joy of putting something from my heart out that is flawed but touches other hearts.

It still fucks with me that people don’t buy my shit when I sell it.

It still fucks with me when I read things and I don’t see myself or other marginalized folks represented.

It still fucks with me when the literary community is largely a burning tire fire of racism and bullshit.

After all this, the real lesson is this.

This is a grind. Rejection alone won’t be the end of you. It is up to you as an artist to decide how to deal with it.

Now if y’all will excuse me, I have anxiety to deal with and shit to do.

Puppies, Hugos and Good Lordt.

If you’re not familiar with what I’m referencing here have a look.

Looking at a lot of conversations in blogs etc about this whole shitshow y’all, if I’m going to be honest, it really makes me even more hesitant to enter the arena.

A lot of what I’ve seen said by whatever flavor of puppies is automatically booting work that I do out of hand because “message’ which I generally read to mean about anything but White straight men.

For me a lot of my fiction is escape. My non-fiction tends to draw the uh, day to day version of pupppies of one sort or another. The White men who email me to tell me how “loud” and “terrible SJW” I am because I write about my life and that often includes my Blackness. The same type who, when I was just a little online journal writing type, would first ask to see my tits or to meet up and when I said no would call me a nigger bitch.

These are the same type of dudes who will correct me about any number of dumb things usually ending with, well YOU’RE THE RACIST.

And I’ve been following this since it started.

Thing is, the fact that this is still a fucking problem that I watch a lot of authors I respect both personally and professionally either be very stressed out about this or show their racist ass.

I watch and read all the commentary and links. I read a lot of the books in question.

At this point, all this whole situation does is show me more reasons I don’t even want to fuck with the industry.

It’s not that I wouldn’t love getting paid for my genre work, reaching a wider audience and all that shit. I just don’t want it ruined. I don’t want yet another part of my literary life to be speckled with this flavor of bullshit.

Not too long ago I had a pretty good sized list of mags and whatnot that would help me in getting SFWA membership. I had stories ready to shiny up and fling out into the nerdverse. Now, nah.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got the same amount of side eye for the horror areas as well. Especially given some professional organization fuckery that occurred right after getting a pretty warm sell on joining up and getting back into the horror genre in a larger fashion.

I keep telling myself things like the following:

Posi Brain: No, it’ll totally be fine. You’re being paranoid not everything is awful.

Non Posi Brain: Bitch whet? You saw that last note, we got right? You’re being a dipshit. Nothing is fine. Everything is awful.

Remix- repeat.

All this said, I don’t think I’m gonna be fuckin with it. I am stressed out enough. I hear enough about ALL the reasons why anything I say ever whether fictional or not are, somehow the end of White men everywhere.

My audience isn’t huge nor are they throwing big dollars but, I feel like we get each other and that feels good.

That’s how I feel about it for the couple of people who’ve asked me. Basically, I see it and I don’t like it so I ain’t fuckin with it.

Now, speaking to my audience, oh hey you.

Rewrites on The Daiyu Saga have begun and if you want to see the second draft of my first urban fantasy novel as it goes along, all it takes is like 2$ a month and BOOM access to every chapter and love letter that goes along with it. Head over here to check it out.

In other news, I will have some new lit in the etsy shop soon and you can still get this bad bitch right here, for a few dollars. Come get all your life.

 

mfcover

Stop Picking on White Dudes.

I have been staring at a message that came via the facebooks and it just says:

Stop bullying White men and trying to ruin their careers.

After that scintillating message there were links to some stuff I wrote in 2015 as evidence of my bullying.

Then another account with strangely the same profile photo sent me a message to let me know that not only do people know about my racist misandry, but it is what is keeping me from being a successful author.

They also were kind enough to let me know that my racist misandrist behavior has been noted, NOTED by someone who spent a lot of time googling me and reading stuff I wrote.

Shortly after I read the messages both accounts have been deleted.

While I am terribly flattered. I mean we all know that I have zero desire to write what I’m passionate about, help people, write some beautiful poems what I really want to do is to become the Overlord High Empress of ALL Literature and in my capacity as High Empress,swoop into EVERY home to remove EVERY single piece of literature ever written by a white man from every home.

It is my intention to become all powerful and let the power do what power does.

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Lord Acton

 

I have to confess. They caught me. It has never been my intention to bring to light the experiences of one Black Woman author to light. Never have I really wanted to talk about and thus be part of banishing the upholding of White supremacy in literary circles, I don’t want to work in an industry that has some awareness of itself, I don’t want to question the gatekeeping-
No, I just want to ruin White men.

I don’t want to educate White Feminists when I talk about racism as it happens in feminism. Nope. I want to use them as part of my nefarious plan to destroy White men.

Rather than expressing my pain and frustration with how the White Broets of the world (and by extension their Nice White Lady counterpart Poets) fuck up my ability to navigate in the world of poetry with their Conceptual Racism.

Y’all caught me.

I confess.

I’ve spent the last 30 years of my life writing, reading, working, sweating, bleeding and driving myself while not making very much money not because I have a passion for the craft.

Nope.

I want to take your White male writers right out of your hand.

Now I know I’ve talked about being a marginalized person, but I have to tell y’all it was an elaborate ruse.

There is no such thing as privilege and thus I can’t exist as a marginalized person. Feminism is just a cover up for all of us wimmin who can’t attract every Straight White Cis Man we see.

Racism? White men, I apologize.

All this time I’ve been lying.

Racism has absolutely no impact on anyone ever.

It has all just been a part of my plan.

Yes, it has been my sole goal for all these years to ensure that no White Male Writer ever gets anything ever again.

I am so amazed by your insight and bravery in coming forward. I mean, after everything I’ve said about Kenny G. and his ilk, I’m SURE they are ALL in the poorhouse now.

I have so much power in the literary world, I’ve burrowed underground and been hoarding it like some evil Black Lady Dragon.

You got me.

It is because of me that you will not find a single White Cis Dude author on the shelves right now. Why, suddenly the Western Literary Canon is full of brown people, homos and women.

It is why No Man will EVER produce another bestseller, “classic” or anything else.

FINALLY ALL MY PLANS AND ALL MY NEFARIOUS SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR WORK HAS COME TO FRUITION!!

In my new capacity as Overlord High Empress of ALL Literature, everyone who can read will be forced to burn their books by White Men and read only books by people who are not them.

Forget Fahrenheit 451. This is the mother fucking Literary Apocayplse. This is an extinction event. This is the end of the movie. Game over man Game over.

Face it, my wild social justice warrior agenda has prevailed and now I shall sit back and reap the benefits of what I have sown.

Yours,
Overlord High Empress of ALL Literature and generally evil indie Black Woman Writer-
Shannon.

3998596-dr-evil

On Pandering and a few Other thoughts.

I don’t feel like linking but there’s an essay going around about the lit world and I’ve seen a lot of fist pumping excitement about it.

My initial response was tepid.

Mainly because these are issues I know I’ve written and talked about and as usual, it’s another topic where I see a lot of folks get excited when a nice White lady says it, when I said it for years I got a lot of very shitty responses.

Part of that is because I don’t say it like this:

Let us not make people at the margins into scouts or spies for the mainstream. Let us stop asking people to speak for the entire cacophonic segment of humanity that shares their pigmentation, genitalia, or turn-ons.

Let us spend more time in those uncomfortable moments when our privilege is showing. Let us reflect there, let us linger, rather than recoil into the status quo.

I say things like yo this is racist.

I say, this is sexist.

I am not a nice White lady so when I buck up against the status quo I become a threat and a bully. White writers presume I don’t understand the differences between aesthetics, technically “good” writing, that I am a fascist and pro censorship, that my knee jerk reactions are bad, that my writing sucks, blablabla. All things that have been said to me personally in the comments, via messages on social media etc. A personal favorite from some dude I’ve never heard of via email, “You’re no Roxane Gay.”

No sir, I am not.

I understand why it is that my own work in regard to certain topics in publishing aren’t met with the same AWWW YEAH response that On Pandering was. I get it.

When Marlon James said that authors of color pander to White women I fist pumped.

My reasons for agreeing with that statement by itself, aren’t the same reasons he gave so let’s talk about that shall we?

Being a Black woman author, I’ve spent a lot of my time yes pandering to White women in lit.

In super seekrit supposedly feminist writer spaces where, I experienced some of the worst abuse, gaslighting and racism of my entire fucking life. Pure disrespect and a boot in the neck wearing White Privilege Nikes that I still feel the bruises from. I discovered yet another literary space where, solidarity and support and professional connections were promised so long as I maintained my Nice Negress face. It got to be straight up abuse and I flounced like a mother fucker to the point where I removed ALL links to my work at my own peril because fuck those people.

This was not one group it was most of them.

I spent months biting my tongue, politely educating, sharing my work on how not to be a fucking racist, and got a lot of bullshit in return.

I remember very clearly just prior to me rage quitting the big super seekrit lady group, a White woman writer/publisher/mover shaker sent me a very long private message on facebook detailing ALL the ways she had decided that because of my aggression (I said no to White women), my “unsisterly attitude” (I said no to White women who were demanding my emotional labor for free and with a smile) and the one that hurt me the most “if you weren’t so aggressive I would have read your piece” (after I linked this piece in a long and awful “discussion” about White women and racism) she went on to explain that she has connections in the industry and if my name came up in her circles she’d be sure to caution people about working with me because I did not lay down and get fucked by her and other White women writers Whiteness hard ons.

Since I removed myself from that group and most of the others associated with it, I’ve watched other WOC try so hard to not do what I did.

I watch them and we talk, and they cry and we all burn because unlike me a lot of the WOC writers I am connected have oceans more patience than I do.

The fact is, many White women are in fact gatekeepers. They might not be the gatekeepers of big house publishing, but as publishing in the trenches goes, they are. They are editors and in other positions where many WOC have to choose between pandering, indulging, pleasing those White women or staying true to their vision.

I’ve seen it happen time and again. WOC writers having to fight against “aesthetics” that prevent them from capitalizing or specifying Black, having editors change their work to the degree that it strips racial identity from it, being in a position where they don’t have enough power to really be demanding because let’s face it, if you are not a name authors it is an extra hill to climb to be able to get your work out AND be defiant.

I’ve watched WOC be pushed out of groups intended to be resources and sources of support and opportunity because they got too uppity and refused to be silent when bullshit was bullshit.

It’s happened to me.

I’m sure it’s happened to a lot of us.

So yes, YES many of us have to pander.

We have to learn how to navigate places where Whiteness is wielded like a weapon and it is our opportunities to be published being held hostage. It is fucking up our livelihoods.

So, while we’re all fist pumping about “pigmentation differences” remember that a lot of us who are not name authors, we’re not midlist, you’ve probably never heard of us are already in the trenches. Maybe start with paying attention to what the fuck we’ve been saying for years.

Then fist pump.

Or you know, do something.

Against Diversity.

Given the further ramping up of racism in the lit world, I have to confess something.

In recent weeks I’ve watched digital yellowface, more White lady authors defending each other from us savage Brown, Black, Queer, Disabled and countless others, I have seen White people do intellectual 10.0 tumbling routines in order to make sure everyone knows that it’s never their fault, they aren’t racists, they are just trying to get what we others have.

I have witnessed male poets sexually harass, objectify and gaslight women.

I haven’t commented on every single thing because I was busy putting out a book.

Here is something I’ve come to understand.

When they say they aren’t against, diversity they just are against censorship and racial nepotism they want us others around but quiet.

Yes, it’s reassuring to know that we Wise Old Negresses exists, but naturally only a precious few of us should be visible or audible at any one time.

If more than one of us speaks at one time, it’s just PCness taking over and tantamount to murderous terrorism and censorship on the level of book burnings and religious extremism.

Right.

I see exactly what’s happening.

Solidarity amongst us others is threatening to Whiteness because we have our own voices, and will not only have our own spaces but will be heard in those spaces as well.

I see the patterns in this behavior.

The fear based posturing. The apparently righteous cause of freedom of speech. The White Flight. The victim pose, oh poor picked on White people being held accountable for their words and actions. All of it.

And it is exhausting.

I endure the micro aggressions. I quietly unfollow, unfriend, put literary magazines on my verboten list. I note who I will and won’t EVER work with at my own peril.

And yet, YET I am still right here.

I wrote an amazing book that is vital and important and yes, it is fucking expensive. 

I’ve stood up for my work because god damn it, this is years of my life, deep life changing work for both my publisher and I. And yes, it is that valuable.

I do this work in the face of the wall of White tears, White outrage, Silencing, Othering, and cowpie dodging that is the publishing industry.

I do this work because it is what I am meant to do.

I don’t do it in order to lead White folks and publishers by the hand into the land of milk, honey & diversity.

I do it because I have things to say. Because my voice, the voice that I have struggled to find and learn how to wield like a machete and like a lover’s hand is important.

So yes, YES, by all means keep tumbling and cartwheeling to justify why I should remain silent.

I will not name you all.

But I see you.

I see you.